Bruschetta ai Funghi

BRUSCHETTA pronounced“ BROO-SKEH-TTAH” is not only a very popular Italian dish but it is also one of many Italian words that people mispronounce. With this recipe I combined some cookery skills along with language skills. As a language tutor I find that people learn quickly with practical examples and by referring to words that regularly pop out on a  daily basis.

Here is a word that everybody would know though: CHIANTI and I am sure we all know how to say it!  “KEY-AN-TEE” …. Just like that!

“CHI” and “CHE” always sound “KEY” and “KEH” therefore whenever we find words with these syllables we need to remember to pronounce them as there was a ‘K’ .
Have a go now with some other popular words:
MOSCHINO (brand) MÁCCHINA (car)
ORCHÉSTRA (orchestra) MÁSCHERA (mask)
MARCHE (a region) TACCHÍNO (turkey)
CHILO ( kilo) FORCHÉTTA (fork)

While we are all saying these words out loud we can make this very tasty recipe….and by now we should know exactly how to pronounce “Bruschetta” 🙂

Serving 4 people

Ingredients 

300g  closed up mushrooms, washed and chopped

1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, washed and finely chopped

300g double cream

2 garlic cloves , finely chopped

2  loaves of tiger bread or ciabatta

3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Parmesan cheese, shavings

1 pinch of salt

Preparation

Heat the olive oil in a medium sauce pan. Add the mushrooms and cook for a 3/4 minutes.

Add the garlic and the parsley. Stir it and pour the cream in, add a pinch of salt and cook for 2 minutes at low heat.

Slice the bread and toast or grill it. Place the bread on a large serving plate.
Pour the sauce on the bread and add the parmesan shavings.…Pronto!!!

Buon Appetito!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOR SPAG SAKE!

Someone very special in my life quietly and very suddenly changed his residence to Heaven.

He believed in my cooking and he raved about my dishes giving me all the support I needed.

When you can make your family happy with your cooking you know that what you are doing is  simply great.

The dish he loved the most is the simplest, the quickest and the tastiest of  all.

Here I am, dedicating this recipe to a man who is no longer here but I know his support is still around (R.I.P. John)

IMG_3377

Spaghetti Aglio Olio e Peperoncino

IMG_3372 IMG_3374 IMG_3375 IMG_3376

Serving 4 people

Ingredients

Spaghetti 400g

Olive Oil (preferably Extra Virgin) 7/8 tablespoons

Garlic,  2 cloves, finely sliced

Dried chillies, small handful or half of a medium fresh chillies, seeded and finely sliced as an alternative

Salt, corse, 1/2 tablespoons

Parmesan cheese, as much as we like!!!!

Preparation

In a large saucepan pour some water (1/1.5 l) and bring it to the boil. Add the coarse salt, put the spaghetti in and cook following the time on the packet (usually spaghetti cook in 8 minutes)

Heat the olive oil, the garlic and the chillies on a large pan. Simmer only for a few minutes till golden, don’t cook it for too long as it can easily burn!!!

Once the spaghetti are cooked (don’t over cook them as they need to be “al dente”, not too hard, not too soft), you can place them into a large serving bowl. Pour all the oil with the garlic and chillies. Mix and sprinkle as much parmesan as you like! Pronto 🙂

Following my #BringNonnaBack we would also add some fresh parsley before serving ( garlic and parsley go very well together and the natural property of the parsley helps to digest the strong garlic taste).

I also meant to say that this dish is also known for “LO SPUNTINO DI MEZZANOTTE”, a midnight snack ….

Buon Appetito !!!

IMG_3378

CHICKEN STANOTTE

After a great summer ( most of us enjoyed the sunshine somewhere hot ) we are now back in the full swing of our busy lives (….and that not so warm weather), and probably we are all thinking about a nice warm dish we can cook for dinner.

One of the dishes that comes into my head and is also inspired by the latest documentary from Jamie Oliver (#SugarRush), is my Chicken Stanotte (title taken from a well known supermarket brand…), just to show that is as easy to prepare your own sauce instead of buying it ready made. Don’t forget that making your own dish is a simple and healthier option and despite our busy schedules we always need to find some time to cook fresh meals. Stock up your pantry and your fridge with fresh vegetables and fruit! Fresh fruit is an healthier option to sweets, crisps and chocolate bars, most of all after children come back from school. Besides there are so many great dishes we can create with fresh produce.

“Pollo” (POH-LLOOH)  is the Italian for Chicken and Stanotte (STAH-NOH-TTEH)  is “Tonight” or “This Evening” in English 😉

My Nonna would cook chicken as a back up plan on days when there was so much homemade bread left over that you needed a good earthy dish to mop the sauce up!!! #BringNonnaBack

So have all your ingredients ready and let’s start!

Serving

4 people

Ingredients

6/8 chicken thighs, skinless and boneless

3 large carrots, peeled and chopped in chunks

2 celery sticks, chopped in chunks

half red onion, diced

half white onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

handful of rosemary

1 tin of plum tomatoes

2 peppers, chopped in chunks

1 small tub of olives, preferably green

300ml of chicken stock or vegetable stock

salt, a good pinch

olive oil, 4 tablespoons

IMG_3271

Preparation

Preheat the oven at 200 degrees.

In a large bowl marinate the chicken thighs with the garlic, rosemary , salt and olive oil. Leave it to rest for 5 minutes.

IMG_3272

In a large pan (make sure it’s oven proof) put a little olive oil, put the pan on a medium heat and add the vegetables (celery, carrots, peppers red and white onion). Simmer until golden.

IMG_3273

Take a nonstick pan and put it on the heat until warm and add the chicken thighs. Cook them on one side and turn them over once golden. The juice from the marinate will prevent them sticking to the pan. If you wish, add a pinch of salt. Cook with the lid off until both sides are cooked. Put them to one side.

IMG_3274


Add the tin of tomatoes and the stock into the pan with the vegetables, stir and cook with the lid on for 10 minutes.


IMG_3275

Place the chicken thighs into the pan with the vegetables, add the olives. Make sure the sauce covers the meat so it won’t dry up in the oven. Place the pan in the oven and cook for another 10 minutes…..Pronto! 

To give a touch of freshness to your dish you can sprinkle some finely chopped basil. Enjoy your chicken with some warm bread or some rice. Buon Appettito !!!

IMG_3276

Please, please, pretty please!!! Be aware of the added sugar in your food and drinks, cook sensibly and ditch heavy ready sauces!

Benfleet FRD pic

Peperonissimi

I love peppers and I love them even more when roasted. They complement any dish, I like them with rice, pasta, fish and meat, although on their own are just perfect! Peppers are very popular in Italian cuisine despite the fact that most people might think they are more prominent in Spanish dishes…..well the truth is that wherever you are, Italy, Spain, UK etc… they taste beautiful, you only need to bring their extra flavour out by adding some simple ingredients. For this recipe capers and anchovies do the trick and at home we all love it!

My Nonna used to fill “peperoncini” ( small type of peppers) with chillies and anchovies or with ricotta cheese and anchovies!

#BringNonnaBack today with my version of her peperoncini!

Serving 4 people

Ingredients

5/6 yellow and red peppers,halved

a handful of basil, finely chopped

a handful of parsley, finely chopped,

1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped

1 tin of anchovies, finely chopped

2 tbsp of capers, finely chopped

1 tsp olive oil for drizzling

Preparation

Preheat the oven at 200c (190c fan oven). Halve the peppers and put them on an oven tray. In a large bowl mix the anchovies, basil, capers, parsley and garlic making a thick looking paste.  Fill the peppers with the paste, drizzle with a little olive oil and put them into the oven for 15/20 minutes. The smell of roasted peppers will fill your house, wait till you taste them!

They are simply delicious x

You can have this dish as a side to a BBQ, everyone will tuck in! IMG_0902 IMG_0903 IMG_0907

#BringNonnaBack with Food Revolution

Benfleet FRD picFood Revolution is a new chapter of my passion for wholesome and healthy food! It came along by chance, by following this campaign through twitter and all the other networking engines. As a huge fan of Jamie Oliver I just wanted to get involved as much as I could in making wholesome food real and possible for modern families like mine. I am now an Ambassador for Food Revolution in our area (Benfleet, Essex, East of London). Luckily for me with my traditional Italian heritage I grew up eating fresh food everyday, and when I say everyday, I mean every single day! Fresh herbs from the garden, home made pasta and bread, even home made ice-cream….that was my life as a child living in the south of Italy with a Nonna that would make her own bread and ravioli. She is now 93 years old and due to her age she can no longer use her hands to kneed her dough. It’s a shame and I know how upsetting it is for her to not be able to cook as she used to. Well, I must thank my Nonna for guiding me to wholesome food and I would like to bring back her fresh, wholesome, simple and tasty recipes to the modern families’ tables

#BringNonnaBack is my initiative, my goal, my passion. Bringing Nonna’s dishes and recipes to the table will blend flavours from the past with a modern twist.  I am sure it will work!! It worked with me and it will work with the new generations.

After the huge success that our first Food Revolution event had last week during a local football tournament, I am determined to repeat it again and again! A team of some amazing volunteers helped me to feed 53 people including 22 hungry children and their families. 4 trays of Pasta al Forno, 265 lamb and mint Polpette (meatballs) in tomato sauce, Squash-it-Salad in Pitta Bread and Courgette Spaghetti with Pesto sauce. Seeing and hearing all the positive feedback (from parents but MAINLY from the children) made all the preparation and hard work worth while. None of the helpers had any experience in preparing food on a grand scale, just shows what a great team can accomplish! Well done to everyone involved! May this be the start of the Revolution in Benfleet.

The recipe today is from our Food Revolution Day, inspired by a traditional family dish:

POLPETTE DI AGNELLO ALL’AGLIO E MENTA E SUGO DI POMODORO

Serves 4/6 people

Ingredients for the Polpette-Meatballs

500g Lamb Mince, good quality

1 egg

100g bread crumbs

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

handful of parsley, finely chopped

large handful of mint, finely chopped

pinch of salt

sunflower oil for frying

Preparation

In a large bowl place the mince and add the egg, parsley, garlic, mint , salt and bread crumbs. Mix all together with a fork or with your hand making sure you combine all the ingredients. If the mix feels too wet you can add some more bread crumbs, if it feels too dry add a splash of milk. Once the mix is smooth you can start rolling it into small balls, size of a 10p coin. You should be able to make 50 meatballs. I tent to make them a bit small as it’s easier for the children to eat them all in one go!

IMG_2184

Option 1: Heat some sunflower oil in a large pan and place 6/8 meatballs at the time. Cook them for 4/5 minutes, keep stirring them until golden. Prepare a large dish with some kitchen roll on the side and once the meatballs are ready to come out the pan, drain them and place them on the  kitchen roll to rest and to lose some of the oil. Add a pinch of salt. Keep doing the same until you have cooked all the meatballs.

Option 2: Preheat the oven at 200 degrees, place the meatballs on a flat oven tray and put the in the oven for 25 minutes until golden.

Option3: Once the tomato sauce is ready and has been cooking for a good 1o minutes (see below), poached the meatballs raw in the sauce. Turn the heat down and cook with the lid on for 40 minutes.

IMG_2185

For the Sugo-Sauce

Ingredients

Half of a medium white onion, finely chopped

800/900g of plain tomato Passata (You can find passata in any good supermarket, it’s in a carton or in a bottle)

A handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped

Olive oil, 2 tbs

Salt, a pinch

Sugar, a pinch (to lower the acidity of the tomatoes)

Preparation

Heat a large pan, add the olive oil and the onion. Simmer the onion only for a few minutes untill golden, don’t cook it for too long as it can easily burn.
Add the passata, the salt and sugar and cover with a lid.

PLAN B: if you haven’t got any passata 2 tins of chopped or plum tomatoes will do! Blend them first if possible and pour them into the oil, follow the instructions as before

Turn the heat down and let it cook for 10 minutes, stirring it every now and again.

Finally add your basil and let the sauce embrace the leaves… your sauce is ready!

Place the meatballs into the sauce, make sure they are all covered, put the lid on and  keep cooking the sauce and the meatballs for another 10 minutes on a low heat.

Enjoy your Polpette with some fresh bread, pasta or cous-cous. Buon Apettito!


IMG_2234

IMG_2274

Who said Broccoli are boring?

I am lucky as both of my kids love Broccoli, I am always trying new recipes and whenever I make a new dish they are the first to taste it!!!  I like to give the kids different healthy options, with Broccoli you can never go wrong.

This is a simple Broccoli Salad with lots of goodness and flavour!!!

IMG_1654

Serves 4 people

Ingredients

one broccoli Florette,

one white onion

handful of fennel seeds

1 tin of chick peas

handful of prunes, diced

2 tbs of olive oil

juice and zest of one lemon

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees. Slice the onion in thick slices and place it into a baking tray with a little olive oil and the fennel seeds scattered on the onions. Put in the oven and cook for 25 minute. Cut the broccoli into small florets and if you don’t want to use the stem, it’s great to add it into soups. Blanch the florets in boiling water (I would add a pinch of course salt). It’ll only take 4/5 minutes as they need to be quite crunchy. Drain the florets and place then on a large dish. The onions should be nearly ready by now, if you feel they are drying out add a splash of water on the dish, not on the onions! Drain the chick peas and scatter them on the florets. Place the onions on the dish, you might find some slices a bit more “caramelised” than others, they give great colour to the dish! Sprinkle the prunes, the lemon zest, the lemon juice and the olive oil……Pronto!!! 

Enjoy this fresh new salad with cows-cous, grilled fish and even as a side for a BBQ  xx